Anatomical Studies

Object Details

Title:

Anatomical Studies

Artist/Maker(s):

Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577 - 1640)

Culture:

Flemish

Date:

about 1600 - 1605

Medium:

Pen and brown ink

Dimensions:

27.9 x 18.7 cm (11 x 7 3/8 in.)

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In a technique known by the French term écorché, three figures appear as if without skin. Drawn in luminous light brown ink, the principal figure demonstrates the muscular structure of the back, buttocks, and legs. Fascinated with the structure of the human body, Peter Paul Rubens then drew two subsidiary views of the same powerful form and a detail of the left arm from a different angle.

Rubens produced this drawing sometime during an eight-year stay in Italy, and it shows the strong influence of the new approaches he learned there. The skillfully drawn forms show his complex grasp of the human body in three dimensions. The main figure's truncated right arm suggests the artist's study of broken antique statues, while the surging, heroically proportioned forms and the extensive hatching of the musculature display his familiarity with Michelangelo's drawings. Scholars believe that Rubens produced this anatomical drawing in preparation for an instructional book on human anatomy, which he never published. After the artist's death, a printer published an engraving of this drawing in the mid-1600s.

Exhibitions
Flemish Drawings in the Age of Rubens (October 15 to November 28, 1993)
  • Wellesley College Museum, (Wellesley), October 15 to November 28, 1993, (Cat.)
Flemish Drawings of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (August 29 to November 12, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), August 29 to November 12, 1995, (Cat.)
Figure Drawings (December 17, 1996 to April 6, 1997)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), December 17, 1996 to April 6, 1997, (Cat.)
The Body Beautiful: Artists Draw the Nude (1440 - 1880) (December 14, 1999 to February 27, 2000)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 14, 1999 to February 27, 2000, (Cat.)
Peter Paul Rubens and the Art of Drawing in Flanders (August 29 to October 22, 2000)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), August 29 to October 22, 2000, (Cat.)
Mise-en-Page: The Art of Composing on Paper (December 17, 2002 to March 9, 2003)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 17, 2002 to March 9, 2003, (Cat.)
Visions of Grandeur: Drawing in the Baroque Age (June 1 to September 12, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), June 1 to September 12, 2004, (Cat.)
Rubens and his Printmakers (July 5 to September 24, 2006)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 5 to September 24, 2006, (Cat.)
The Poetry of Paper (July 23 to October 20, 2013)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 23 to October 20, 2013, (Cat.)
Bibliography

"Principales acquisitions des musées en 1988." La Chronique des arts: supplément à la Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 113, no. 1442 (March 1989), p. 32, no. 170, ill.